The Processing of Ambiguous Degree Constructions in German

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Dokumentart: ConferenceObject
Date: 2019-07-31
Language: English
Faculty: 5 Philosophische Fakultät
Department: Allgemeine u. vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft
DDC Classifikation: 400 - Language and Linguistics
430 - Germanic languages; German
Keywords: Komplexität , Semantische Analyse
Other Keywords:
attributive comparatives
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Based on a thorough semantic analysis of German degree quantifiers within the degree approach (cf. e.g. von Stechow, 1984; Heim, 2001), we derived hypotheses on the processing of sentences of the form “A kennt(VERB.3SG) einen besseren(ADJ.COMP) B als C” (‘A knows a better B than C’). These sentences are ambiguous between the DP-internal reading, INT (A knows a B who is a better B than C) and the DP-external reading, EXT (A knows a B who is a better B than a B that C knows). We show that INT is less complex than EXT in several respects. From this we hypothesize that the difference in complexity affects processing such that (i) INT is preferred over EXT in reading the ambiguous sentence (Study 1), that the sentence, if disambiguated by context towards INT rather than EXT, (ii) is judged more acceptable (Study 2) and (iii) that INT takes less long to read than EXT (Study 3). The first hypothesis was confirmed, but not the second and the third one.

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